Professional Development

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You have earned your degree, completed all the requirements for your license, and now you landed your first teaching job. You will soon observe that graduate school prepared you for the big picture of education but not the nitty-gritty of the classroom. This is why teachers attend so many hours of professional development over the course of their career! It’s a paradox: you can’t learn these skills unless you are already teaching and you can’t teach unless you have mastered these skills. For some teachers it’s the physical organization of the room, for others it’s curriculum and lesson planning, and for all of us it’s how we handle the unexpected.

In this web page I address the biggest challenges I faced and only wished I had received more help early on:

  • Time management
  • Discipline
  • Lesson plans
  • Data.

In the spirit of sharing, I provide the resources I used until 2018. This page is therefore not up to date. I invite you to use the form below to communicate your suggestions and I will be happy to update the information.


Schools are a very busy place and time management is an eternal issue. So it behooves us all, especially at the beginning of our career, to learn how to manage time as efficiently and effectively as possible. I have found the EISENHOWER MATRIX to be most helpful.  Visit this useful website to learn the difference between what is URGENT and what is IMPORTANT. Then, start assigning urgent tasks to others and only spend your time on what is important. 

If you were to ask anyone, “what is the purpose of a school?” the main word in their answer would be ‘learning’, yet every day many minutes are wasted. It is therefore imperative that from MINUTE ONE of DAY ONE the teacher trains the student to be engaged in active learning while in his/her class. The DO NOW activity accomplishes this goal:  before the student enters the room s/he is to know there will be something to do. You have to post it on the board before they enter so you can greet each student at the door. It can be anything you want: 

  • To reinforce yesterday’s lesson, present a short quiz.
  • To prepare for today’s lesson, provide the definitions of a few vocabulary words.
  • To give students a chance to express themselves, have them write in a journal.
  • To differentiate instruction, offer those who need it the option to finish yesterday’s homework.

The idea is to use every minute of class time with purpose. You can’t be everywhere at all times, but your students can always be learning. Every year is different, every class has its own personality and you can never plan too much. 

First Day Ice Breaker: what will your first activity be? Will you prepare a little gift bag? Collect a survey? What topic will your writing sample cover?

Use these resources to get started and conduct your own research for first day ice breaker activities.

From The Complete Guide to Service Learning by Cathryn Berger Kaye CBK Associates:

Introductory Quotes Activity
Some of my favorite quotes
Brainy Quote


DISCIPLINE | What does the word discipline mean?

  • Read this definition from the Etymonline and conduct your own research. 
  • Read this definition from the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments
  • Develop your own meaning of discipline and observe the strategies you use in your own class.
  • In education we use preventive, supportive, and corrective discipline and avoid punitive discipline whenever possible.
  • Broaden your understanding by discussing discipline with others and sharing your current practices. What works? What does not work?

RULES | Start with a discussion on what the word RESPECT means. It is crucial that every single student in your class has the chance to express himself/herself. People need to be heard and the first thing you want to communicate to your kids is that you care about them, what they think and how they feel. Next, together generate a list of undesired behaviors. And finally, teach your students how to transform these words into a positive message using verbs. 


  1. Don’t call out
  2. Don’t turn in unfinished assignments
  3. Don’t talk during instruction
  4. Don’t run in the hall
  5. Don’t curse
  6. Don’t fight, punch, kick or throw things
  7. Don’t eat or chew gum in class
  8. Don’t run out of the room
  9. Don’t play with toys
  10. Don’t throw your garbage on the floor


  1. RAISE a quiet hand
  2. HAND IN all assignments on time
  3. LISTEN carefully during instruction
  4. WALK with your class in an orderly fashion
  5. USE polite language
  6. KEEP hands, feet and objects to yourself
  7. SAVE food, snacks nad drinks for the cafeteria
  8. ASK for permission before leaving your seat
  9. LEAVE your toys at home
  10. PLACE your garbage in the garbage can near the door

Eliminate detailed rules and relate each desired behavior to the big picture of respect:

  • Follow directions the first time they are given
  • Respect school and personal property
  • Be kind with your words and your actions

As a way to encourage excellence. I always ended with the Olympic athlete’s motto:
“I will accept nothing less than my best”

Now that your rules are explicit, how will you roll them out? Will you have students sign an individual contract? A class contract? What will be the consequences to infractions? Team up with colleagues, gather ideas from everyone from aides to administrators, and discuss what to do when rules are broken. What practices do you have in place within your room? Outside your class? After class? Prepare for yourself a plan of action with at least 5 things you can do before depending on outside help (e.g. calling for security to remove a student).


Highly recommended book and online class.
Click HERE to visit the website.

What you will learn is priceless: if you have a procedure in place for absolutely everything, discipline takes care of itself and you can almost eliminate rules. Over the course of your e-learning experience you will put together your own binder of procedures. Before you meet your students for the the first time:

  • What is your readiness plan for the first day of school?
  • How will you begin and end each lesson?
  • Besides fire drills for example, how will you handle other interruptions to instruction?
  • How will you organize yourself? Your students? Classroom materials?
  • Distributing and collecting papers
  • Seating arrangements
  • Student Movement: bathroom, nurse, library, hallway and change of room
  • Class assignments and homework
  • Participating in a class discussion, asking and answering questions
  • Quieting the class
  • Student helpers
  • Rules, consequences and rewards
  • How will you celebrate small successes?

The point is that for each behavior you want to encourage and those that are not welcome in your class, you must develop your own procedure.

The procedure is what the teacher wants done. The routine is what the students do automatically:

  • EXPLAIN | state the procedure, explain it, model it, and demonstrate it showing a specific example
  • REHEARSE | have the students rehearse and practice the procedure under your supervision
  • REINFORCE | Re-teach / Practice / Rehearse / Reinforce until the procedure becomes a routine


By now you have understood that in order to deliver instruction in such a way that every student succeeds you MUST have a plan of action for everything, not just the lesson plan.

A lesson plan is NOT read this page, do that exercise. Hand it in.

A good lesson plan should include the following elements:

  • Topic / Date / Grade level / Time allotted
  • Your Name / Subject you teach
  • Educational objective: by the end of this lesson students will be able to (SWBAT):
    • What is it that you want your students to accomplish?
    • Make sure to break down complicated tasks into smaller doable chunks
  • Corresponding standards:
  • Vocabulary, materials and resources (books, websites)
  • Differentiation: some students need accommodations to achieve the goal, others need enrichment. You must plan for both.
  • Assessment: how will you know the student learned what you intended?
  • Follow-up: will you assign homework? Or what is the next step?

If your school does NOT require it, it’s still a good practice to write your lessons down and use it as a diary. Jot down your notes AFTER the class: which children need accommodations? Enrichment? Incidents or anecdotal notes to report? When and how to assess and celebrate learning? Click on the buttons below to download a few examples.

How much TIME will you spend on each component of your lesson? 

High School

Entrance Procedure1 minute7:46 AM
DO NOW5 minutes7:51 AM
Announcements/Feedback3 minutes7:54 AM
Part 1 – Direct Instruction 5 minutes7:59 AM
Part 2 – Guided Practice 10 minutes8:09 AM
Part 3 – Independent Practice20 minutes8:29 AM
Exit Procedure3 minutes8:32 AM

Elementary School

For my formal observation as a student-teacher my professor said. “Anyone can plan an individual lesson. However, a lesson in a vacuum is not as worthy as one that is part of a bigger picture. Start with your theme of the month and chunk down from there. What are the most important ideas you want to drive home?”

It was December and I was teaching first grade. We chose seasonal change as the topic and designed this curriculum: first we had a class discussion about the difference between the first week of school and the first week in December. What changes have you observed? We did a lesson on temperature, went to the library and read books, followed by writing sentences and drawing pictures. The culminating activity was the lesson that was observed:

  • The class was spilt into 3 groups 
  • Each group was given a poster, glue, scissors,  magazines, glitter and cotton balls.
  • Each group was assigned a topic: what do we EAT in the winter, what do we DO in the winter and what do we WEAR in the winter.
  • The children were to look through the magazines, cut something out that answered their question, glue it to the poster and decorate it with glitter and cotton balls for snow..

One child picked an ad for a diamond ring that showed a couple holding hands. When I asked the child why he picked this picture, he said, “We take a walk in the snow together.” He was right! 

The professor (not the same one as mentioned above) got stuck in the snow and showed up half way through lunch. She couldn’t observe the lesson so I asked her if I could show her the posters and submit the lesson plan. She said, “yes” and I passed with flying colors. 


Do you bristle when you hear the words data-driven instruction and equate them with teaching to the test? BIG MISTAKE!!!! Let’s take a breath and think about real life for moment:

  • When your car breaks down, doesn’t your mechanic perform TESTS to see what needs to be done?
  • When you go to the doctor, the first thing s/he does is take your blood pressure, pulse and temperature if need be
  • You have to pass the road test to drive a car

And so it goes. In education, we need to record qualitative and quantitative information:  attendance, grades, behavior, notes associated with assignments.

In this first example, The objective was to use online resources to learn about cardinal directionsthe numbers in the chart refer to the seating chart in the computer lab.





Assessing Student Learning

— Jane Doe

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— Jane Doe

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